Thursday, July 09, 2009

A 5+ star review for The Bones of Summer!

Well, gosh and double gosh. The lovely Jen at Well Read Books has given me a 5+ star review for The Bones of Summer at Jessewave Reviews, which you can click on there and which I also produce below:

“This is my first full marks review and to be honest I'm a little nervous as to whether what I'm going to write now will actually do this book justice. It was that good. So good, in fact, that I may run out of superlatives. So good, that my mind disappeared into 'book world' and I spent every single spare moment reading. So good, that even when I had to do pesky real life things like cooking I was still thinking about the book, wondering what was going to happen next or mulling over the characters, their merits and their flaws. At the beginning of The Bones of Summer everything is going well for Craig. He's happy with where he lives and is good friends with the two women he shares a house with. He likes his modelling job, even if he's not been able to get on as an actor. Best of all, is that he gets a phone call from a guy he met a couple of months ago, Paul, who wants to get together and maybe start something. Things are on the up for Craig and he's happy to go with it and forget all about the terrible things that happened to him when he ran away from his Devon home seven years before. Unfortunately for Craig, life has a way of kicking you in the teeth when you least expect it. Just after his first date (and night) with Paul, he receives a letter from an old neighbour and friend in Devon telling him that his father is missing. This starts off a chain of events which forces Craig to return to Devon and his past and confront all that he was attempting to forget. Paul is a Private Detective and offers to help Craig investigate his past. This then impacts on their tentative relationship. There are two main themes running through this book. The first, and most obvious theme is that of facing up to your past. Craig ran away from his abusive Father at the age of seventeen and has spent the intervening years trying to avoid thinking of his childhood and the events which led to him leaving. The past, as they say, has a way of catching up with you and I found it admirable in Craig that he faces up to that once he realises that he can't stay in hiding forever. His reaction to going back to Devon was a mixture of heartbreaking and confusing for the reader. Craig himself has large gaps in his memory and often reacts to his surroundings in a very emotional way that even he can't understand, let alone explain to Paul. It takes time and a painful stripping away of the layers before Craig is even able to discover what happened. The reader is taken along with that emotional rollercoaster and I found that I had to be very patient and wait, like Craig does, before I got answers to the many questions that I had as I was reading. Paul too has a past. He has suffered tragedy and betrayal in his life which you would think would make him the ideal person to help Craig through this difficult time. However, things are never that simple which leads to the second theme: That of secrets and lies. Both men have secrets from each other. In one sense this is understandable; they have just met each other and are starting a tentative journey on the road to love. Neither one of them want to share their past with each other yet. Craig doesn't want to scare Paul off and Paul has his own reasons to which we are not privy. It did annoy me that Paul often accuses Craig of lying to him, when, rather hypocritically, he never comes wholly clean about his own past. In fact, I found myself getting cross with Paul quite a lot throughout the book. On one hand he offers to help Craig and even spends a lot of time supporting him through this terrible time; but on the other hand he uses quite brutal methods to force Craig to open up and speak about his past. Methods such as the use of emotional blackmail by withdrawing his approval or acting coldly towards him or blowing hot and cold so that Craig is confused as to where he stands in their relationship. I wasn't sure I liked Paul, but that didn't mean he wasn't a terrific character. He was - as is any character who draws such a response from me. If you are thinking that this sounds like a very angst filled book, then you will be right. Emotions run high throughout the novel. Both men are strong characters who are dealing in their own way with distressing things that have happened to them. Sometimes they break down in tears; sometimes they clash horribly and say dreadful things to each other; sometimes they make love fiercely in order to forget; sometimes they close up and suffer in silence. These were complex men and I was never really sure how they would react at any time. It was this unpredictability that had me on the edge of my seat throughout the book. What a thrilling ride! Having said that, the book wasn't all doom and gloom and what saved it from being too heavy going was the internal voice of Craig. He had a typical British self-depreciating sense of humour and a ready wit, which brought out humour in the direst of circumstances. An example of this was his self-created list of 'rules for gay men'. But he’d better not forget Gay Rule Number One: At least find out a name and a job before you do the business. Craig also has a great optimism about him. He always tries to focus on the good, even if he does worry about the bad things which are happening to him. This idealistic cheerfulness was appealing and coupled with Craig's sarcastic humour often gets him into trouble, but did help to lighten the feel of the book. I've only touched the surface of what was so great about this book. It wasn't just the realistic characterisation that made this book a fantastic read. The settings were so ordinary, so domestic, such as kitchens, bedrooms, an office, a club, and yet terrible things happened in those settings so that their mere ordinariness added to the chill down the spine. The plotting was tight, with each clue, each answer, being revealed slowly until a breathtaking, frantic, thrilling conclusion. Have I waxed lyrical enough about this book? I don't think I can. All I can do is recommend that you read The Bones of Summer. Actually, this goes beyond recommendation to a plea - if you like mystery; if you like character driven books; if you like reading compulsively, unable to part with the story for even a short time; then you must read this book.”

Double gosh and enormous thank yous from me, Jen - I'm so glad you enjoyed it so much! Actually, astonishingly glad, bearing in mind the traumas of the day and the fact that I struggle so hard to get a book published at all! It's so lovely when readers like it. Thank you.

Keeping to literary matters, here's today's meditation:

Meditation 168

A litany of disasters
opens out:
famine, disease, war,

pain, exile, oppression,
murder, cannibalism, death.
But on this day

of quietness and warmth
the voice of the past

seems far away.

This morning, I caught up with yesterday's episode of Torchwood - the shock! the awful revelation! What on earth did Jack think he was doing??!? Words fail me. I can't wait for tonight ... I've also picked up a free courtesy car from the garage as poor Rupert is going to be sick until at least the weekend. The trauma of driving a courtesy car was bad enough (Lord but I hate change), but when I attempted to get it into reverse in order to park it at home, the damn gear stick came off in my hand and the cars queueing up to wait for me to sort myself out had to wait a while longer as I struggled to get the damn thing back in. Really, it doesn't bode well ... Not only that, but I can't work out how to open the windows so when getting and giving back my car park ticket in Guildford this afternoon, I had to leap out of the car, sort out the barrier machine and then leap back into the car and drive through at a rate of knots before the pole came down again. I also had trouble getting into 2nd gear as the pesky thing tends to go straight from 1st to 4th, which makes roundabouts interesting, to say the least. And Guildford has some damn complex roundabouts. Really, it's astonishing I'm alive at all ...

Thank goodness for a girly lunch and a free glass of wine (thank the Lord for food vouchers) with Robin this afternoon. Lovely to see her, and the support while I burbled on for ten minutes from the off about cars and stress and gear sticks is hugely appreciated. Thank you, Robin. After lunch, we wandered around Guildford and I have bought a very nice green summer cardigan with my Viyella voucher - it must be a voucher day indeed.

Back home, I have finally finished typing up my notes for The Gifting and now need to go through them and highlight the things I specially need to bear in mind for the proper Hallsfoot's Battle edit. And, in the meantime and sadly, I am now one of only two authors who have no bids, for Maloney's Law at the Diabetes Charity auction. Ah, the shame is mounting, you know and only four days left, woe is me.

Lastly, you'll be pleased to know that after nearly 24 hours (24 hours!!!), my Cool-er Reader has finally charged itself up and I must now work out how to load ebooks onto it and how to read them. The mystery thickens, Carruthers ...

Today's nice things:

1. A lovely 5+ review for The Bones of Summer, hurrah!
2. Poetry
3. Torchwood
4. Lunch & shopping with Robin
5. Finishing the pre-edits
6. A charged-up Cool-er Reader - at last!

Anne Brooke - having a veritable rollercoaster day


Nik Perring said...

Whoop for the full marks review, Anne! How cool are YOU?

And you had me laughing thinking about the gear lever! Brilliant!

Anne Brooke said...

Thanks, Nik! And not cool at all - definitely not!!

And ah, the gear leaver - I'm dreading attempting to drive without it tomorrow! Maybe I should get pedals??



Vicki said...

Wahoo on the 5+ star review! Can it get any better? :)


Anne Brooke said...

Thanks, Vicki!!



Jilly said...

That is a brilliant review, Anne. If that doesn't sell any more of your books then I don't know what will!! Hugs xx

Anne Brooke said...

Thanks, Jilly! And here's hoping so!